Intelligent Design

Howling Darwinists

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Several of the usual suspects howled in indignation at my last post, Back to Basics on Whether Truth is Adaptive.  Seversky, goodusername, Pindi, Starbuck, critical rationalist, and rvb8 all embarrassed themselves to one degree or another.

This surprised me, because my thesis – that evolutionary theory predicts that belief in the truth is not always adaptive, and, conversely, belief in a falsehood can be adaptive – is a commonplace among evolutionary theorists.  It is not the least bit controversial, as I made plain with quotes from Pinker, Baum, Hoffman, Varki, Brower, and even Darwin himself (his famous “horrid doubt” quote).

So I challenged my interlocutors.  If you don’t think what I am saying is true, then cite a paper that argues for the opposite proposition:  that truth is always adaptive and falsehood is always maladaptive.

The entirely predictable response to the challenge:  [crickets]

My interlocutors seemed to be especially flummoxed by the following example I used to illustrate the point:

Oog the caveman thinks Saber Toothed tigers are fun to play with. But he also thinks the best way to play with tigers is to run and hide. Both ideas are contrary to reality. But in combination they result in his survival. Oog is fit under Darwinism’s definition of fit.

For example Goodusername wrote:  “Oog doesn’t have long to live.”  Why would GUN say that?  The example specifically says Oog survived, and why is that surprising?  After all, running and hiding when he sees a tiger is one of the best survival behaviors I can imagine.

Nevertheless, GUN insists that Oog’s days are numbered, because he is not thinking straight.  THAT IS THE POINT GUN!  Natural selection does not care whether Oog is thinking straight.  It only cares if his behavior results in his survival.  In the example Oog ran and hid and survived.  It makes no difference as far as Darwinian fitness is concerned that Oog hid for the wrong reason.  The only thing that matters from a fitness perspective is that he hid and therefore survived.

Bottom line:  Oog’s false beliefs about playing games with tigers led to a behavior (hiding) that resulted in his survival.  Therefore, when Oog acted on the basis of these false beliefs, it increased his fitness (which means nothing more than that he survived to pass along his genes).

Why is this so hard to understand?  This is pretty basic stuff.  Yet, Rvb8 wrote:  “this Oog chap seems to have a parlous grip on his environment and its inhabitants.”

Yes, Rvb8, that is true.  And again, that is the point!  Oog’s mental grasp on reality is utterly irrelevant to natural selection so long as it leads him to ACT in a way that increases his chances of surviving.  And running and hiding from tigers definitely does that for obvious reasons.

Pindi wrote:

Barry, what I am disagreeing with is that a caveman that was so poorly adapted to his environment that be believes sabre tooth tigers are fun to play with is going to survive long enough to breed in comparison to a caveman who recognizes the truth about sabre tooth tigers. Surely that is obvious. I can’t believe you are denying it with a straight face.

*sigh*  The point of the example is that Oog IS adapted to his environment.  How is he adapted to his environment?  Even though he does so for the wrong reason, he runs and hides when he sees a tiger.  Maybe another example will help you understand this basic concept:

  1. Scenario one: Oog sees a tiger, and he says to himself, “that tiger wants to play games, and I know his favorite game is hide and seek.  I will run into this cave where he can’t find me.”  Oog then hides in the cave; the tiger does not find him, and Oog survives.
  1. Scenario two: Ugm sees a tiger, and he says to himself, “that tiger is dangerous.  I will run into this cave where he can’t find me.”  Ugm then hides in the cave; the tiger does not find him, and Ugm survives.

As between Oog and Ugm, which is more “fit” as far as natural selection is concerned?  Trick question.  They both survived, and if this one incident is all we know about them, they are equally fit even though Oog acted on false beliefs and Ugm acted on true beliefs.   The ONLY way to actually measure relative fitness is to measure relative survival rates.  If survival rates are the same, fitness is the same.

I hope our Darwinist friends appreciate the education in Darwinism I am giving them.   I doubt they do.

73 Replies to “Howling Darwinists

  1. 1
    rvb8 says:

    Wow Barry,

    a little less time impressing us with your lawerly debating skills, (which are parlous:), and a little more laboratory time.

    You are turning into a Kairofocus, endless opaque posts, on vague topics, where no clear goal is assailable.

    Ooog, is lucky to be alive; ‘luck’ is the most important factor. This is not the clinical ‘selective’ pressure of evolution.

    Evolution states, ‘luck’ is in the recombination of genes, how DNA makes mistakes in recombination, due to imperfect chemistry, and the vagueries of subatomic recombination, (which we are far from understanding). Evolution understands this process is unpredictable, producing a wide variety of phenotypes which nature ‘selects’ from.

    Your Ooog, and his parents would not survive this rigorous ‘selective’ process, therefore your mental exercise is moot.

    And I didn’t, ‘Howl’, I made one comment, enough with the histrionics.

  2. 2
    critical rationalist says:

    @Barry

    If I’m flummoxed by your argument, it’s because it doesn’t seem to make sense.

    First, you’re claimed we *were* designed. Despite that, what you’ve described actually was the case for most of human history. People’s lives were dominated by useful fictions that bared little resemblance to reality. With the exception of fire, the wheel, etc. virtually nothing new was learned for generation after generation.

    These were people with brains that with effectively the same design as ours and wanted to make progress but didn’t. Why? Because they didn’t know how. IOW, it’s not about the hardware, but software.

    Or are you suggesting these people *didn’t* have brains “designed” for truth, and then suddenly they did?

    Second, you’re arguing that evolution cannot result in true, justified belief. My response is, “So, what?”. None of our knowledge true justified belief. And it’s unclear how anyone’s brain can be designed to obtain it. So, you cannot even us it in a critical way.

    From the Wikipedia entry on Critical Rationalism…..

    Critical rationalism rejects the classical position that knowledge is justified true belief; it instead holds the exact opposite: That, in general, knowledge is unjustified untrue unbelief. It is unjustified because of the non-existence of good reasons. It is untrue, because it usually contains errors that sometimes remain unnoticed for hundreds of years. And it is not belief either, because scientific knowledge, or the knowledge needed to build a plane, is contained in no single person’s mind. It is only available as the content of books.

    Since the contents of our theories are not actually “out there” for us to copy into our brains, it’s unclear how a brain “designed” for truth could “choose” from one of them, even if that wasn’t irrational. Apparently, brains can somehow derive truth from observations, “because that’s just what some designer must have wanted?”

    Furthermore, in what appears to be a gross misunderstanding / misrepresentation of biological Darwinism, a person who holds the ideas that “Saber Toothed tigers are fun to play with.” and “The best way to play with tigers is to run and hide.” does not transmit those ideas via sexual reproduction. This is because those ideas are located in their brain, not their genome.

    IOW, it would be a meme, not a gene. Neither of those things would be considered more or less fit from a biological evolutionary perspective.

    Knowledge is information that plays a causal role in being retained when embedded in a storage medium. It doesn’t require a knowing subject. An example of this is when a genes contain knowledge that plays a causal role in getting copied into the next generation. This happens even in cases when the result ends up making the organism less fit.

    There is this book called “The Selfish Gene” You might have heard of it.

  3. 3
    Seversky says:

    Howling Darwinists

    Great name for a group.

    Several of the usual suspects howled in indignation at my last post, Back to Basics on Whether Truth is Adaptive. Seversky, goodusername, Pindi, Starbuck, critical rationalist, and rvb8 all embarrassed themselves to one degree or another.

    This surprised me, because my thesis – that evolutionary theory predicts that belief in the truth is not always adaptive, and, conversely, belief in a falsehood can be adaptive – is a commonplace among evolutionary theorists. It is not the least bit controversial, as I made plain with quotes from Pinker, Baum, Hoffman, Varki, Brower, and even Darwin himself (his famous “horrid doubt” quote).

    Who was disagreeing? I wrote:

    You can point out that there are many false narratives or beliefs that incidentally that don’t hinder or even aid survival and I will agree.

    …and in the previous thread on this topic:

    And we can certainly imagine scenarios in which false beliefs are not immediately dangerous to the holder.

    Evolution selects on behavior, yes, but behavior is influenced in human beings by belief. Oog’s belief that the tiger just wants to play leads him to run away and hide, which saves him from being eaten – on that occasion. It will also save him on any subsequent occasion. Until, as I wrote before, he decides that the tiger wants a friendly wrestle. That will end Oog’s line of descent in short order. More importantly, if, as seems likely, Oog contributes to the tiger’s survival before he can breed, his false beliefs won’t be passed down to any offspring since there won’t be any. Moog, on the other hand, survives to have children who are warned sternly that under no circumstances are they to assume that large kitties are just as friendly and harmless as small ones. In this way, maladaptive behavior and beliefs can be filtered out by natural selection.

  4. 4
    Barry Arrington says:

    Rvb8: “Your Ooog, and his parents would not survive this rigorous ‘selective’ process”

    That’s right. If logic and evidence don’t support your argument, maybe sheer assertion will get you there. In the example, Oog survived. Your response is to assert, no he didn’t. OK. I can’t refute that. On the other hand, it doesn’t address, much less refute, my argument.

    CR: “in general, knowledge is unjustified untrue unbelief.” I assume you believe that statement is a justified true belief. Idiot.

    Seversky: “Until, as I wrote before, he decides that the tiger wants a friendly wrestle.” Sure, if you want to make up scenarios in which Oog doesn’t survive, you are welcome to. Why don’t you just say he read Schopenhauer and committed suicide. That would have as much relevance to the scenarios that are actually on the table as your comment does.

    Wow. In my last post I gave this challenge: “If you don’t think what I am saying is true, then cite a paper that argues for the opposite proposition: that truth is always adaptive and falsehood is always maladaptive.” As I mentioned above, last time I got [crickets]

    I make the challenge again. Put up or shut up boys. You little unresponsive tantrums are boring. Meet my actual argument. Or admit I am right.

  5. 5
    Pindi says:

    No 1. I didn’t howl, whether in indignation or for any other reason.

    No 2. All I was doing was pointing out that your Oog example didn’t make sense.

    You’re welcome

  6. 6
    tribune7 says:

    — Ooog, is lucky to be alive; ‘luck’ is the most important factor. This is not the clinical ‘selective’ pressure of evolution. —

    RVB8, the example doesn’t involve luck. It involves a condition that doesn’t make a whit of sense but still works. It’s not the same thing as luck. Chance is not involved in Ooog’s choice to run away.

  7. 7
    Mung says:

    > Ooog, is lucky to be alive; ‘luck’ is the most important factor.

    Genetic drift then?

  8. 8
    Mung says:

    It’s pretty obvious from reading responses to Barry’s posts that truth is not adaptive.

  9. 9
    goodusername says:

    So I challenged my interlocutors. If you don’t think what I am saying is true, then cite a paper that argues for the opposite proposition: that truth is always adaptive and falsehood is always maladaptive.
    The entirely predictable response to the challenge: [crickets]

    Since no one is disagreeing the above statement, that is, indeed, a predictable response.

    For example Goodusername wrote: “Oog doesn’t have long to live.” Why would GUN say that? The example specifically says Oog survived, and why is that surprising? After all, running and hiding when he sees a tiger is one of the best survival behaviors I can imagine.

    GUN would say that because there’s more to staying alive than surviving tiger encounters.

    Nevertheless, GUN insists that Oog’s days are numbered, because he is not thinking straight. THAT IS THE POINT GUN!

    And my point is…. there’s more to life than surviving tiger encounters. Oog got comically lucky and managed to survive 30 seconds longer. That’s nice. As I said before, humans don’t have the life span and reproductive cycle of a fruit fly.

    Ok, Oog’s death perhaps won’t be via tiger. But with a mind like his, it’s a race as to which other million ways to die gets to him first.

    Natural selection does not care whether Oog is thinking straight. It only cares if his behavior results in his survival. In the example Oog ran and hid and survived. It makes no difference as far as Darwinian fitness is concerned that Oog hid for the wrong reason. The only thing that matters from a fitness perspective is that he hid and therefore survived.

    If you believe (as I’m sure you do) that thinking straight and having a better understanding of one’s environment typically aids in making decisions that results in a better chance at survival – than you will believe that that’s what Natural Selection will typically favor. Period. You’re right. This is pretty basic stuff. There’s no chance that Oog breeds.

    Perhaps an example used by a couple of the Darwinists that Barry mentions, Ajit Varki and Danny Brower, will help. So let’s take a look at their claims.
    Their theory is that knowledge of death causes so much anxiety that it prevents species from advancing mentally to the point that they become aware of their death. Thus there’s a barrier to advancing beyond a certain point. But humans, they theorize, got past the barrier by sort-of subconsciously denying death. They are careful to explain the type of “denial” that they are talking about:

    It is important at this point to note that the term denial has many different meanings, depending on the context. Standard dictionaries cite many different definitions of the word. There are also diverse colloquial uses, including “self-denial” or “in denial,” as well as various meanings in Freudian psychology. I use the term here not to denote dictionary definitions, such as “disbelief in the existence or reality of a thing” or “a refusal to agree or comply with a statement” (or other variants thereof), but rather to denote the basic definition derived from psychology: An unconscious defense mechanism used to reduce anxiety by denying thoughts, feelings, or facts that are consciously intolerable.

    The above begs the question: If knowledge of death is so detrimental, why didn’t we just evolve to not have knowledge of death, or to believe that we never die? Why couldn’t there be, for instance, a caveman who consciously denied death? I haven’t read everything by them so I don’t know if they answer this question themselves, but certainly a major issue is that it would be contradictory to envision such a human.

    A caveman couldn’t possibly be so stupid, and have such a loose “grasp on reality” as to not be aware of death and, yet, manage to survive. In other words, it would be like proposing an Oog.

    Whatever benefit the false belief regarding death confers would easily be swamped by the accompanying problems that are opposed to fitness. Just as with Oog.

  10. 10
    rvb8 says:

    Barry,

    a creature that didn’t know a predator was to be avoided to ensure breeding success, would not breed. If it used your rationale, that it was some kind of fun game, then when he lost, he would really lose; the game of life/survival/evolution; he would fail to have offspring, if he thought as your Ooog does.

    You say Ooog used a different approach, and thought the preator was fun, and he was in a game, therefore producing the same result; survival.

    This is childish and absurd on the face of it. Every predated creature in the history of nature avoids predation through the twin motivating fctors of, an instinct for survival (not jollity), and an instinct to preserving their DNA.

    Your Ooog’s survival instinct is severely flawed and would be selected against; he and his parents wouldn’t survive the stupist predator, let alone a hungry feline.

    What lawerly word salad will you now produce to refute the plain English of my post?

  11. 11
    critical rationalist says:

    CR: “in general, knowledge is unjustified untrue unbelief.” I assume you believe that statement is a justified true belief. Idiot.

    Do you really think simply omitting part of an argument (quotemining) is a good strategy? Apparently, you don’t think very much of your readers.

    Specifically, you omitted very specific criticism of the idea that knowege justified, true belief. And, in doing so, you omitted the answer to what I assume that statement to be.

    And I’m the idiot?

    For example, which, of any, do you disagree with?

    It is unjustified because of the non-existence of good reasons. It is untrue, because it usually contains errors that sometimes remain unnoticed for hundreds of years. And it is not belief either, because scientific knowledge, or the knowledge needed to build a plane, is contained in no single person’s mind. It is only available as the content of books.

    I would also add that all theories are incomplete. Is this something you disagree with? And if justification is imposible, how can knowledge be justified, Wouldn’t this not represent a valid critism of the idea that knowege is true, justified belief?

    As for the first, lack of good reasons…

    “justificationism”. Most justificationists do not know that they are justificationists. Justificationism is what Popper called a “subjectivist” view of truth, in which the question of whether some statement is true, is confused with the question of whether it can be justified (established, proven, verified, warranted, made well-founded, made reliable, grounded, supported, legitimated, based on evidence) in some way.

    According to Bartley, some justificationists are positive about this mistake. They are naïve rationalists, and thinking that their knowledge can indeed be founded, in principle, it may be deemed certain to some degree, and rational.

    Other justificationists are negative about these mistakes. They are epistemological relativists, and think (rightly, according to the critical rationalist) that you cannot find knowledge, that there is no source of epistemological absolutism. But they conclude (wrongly, according to the critical rationalist) that there is therefore no rationality, and no objective distinction to be made between the true and the false.

    By dissolving justificationism itself, the critical rationalist regards knowledge and rationality, reason and science, as neither foundational nor infallible, but nevertheless does not think we must therefore all be relativists. Knowledge and truth still exist, just not in the way we thought.

  12. 12
    Origenes says:

    CR @2

    None of our knowledge true justified belief.

    I do not know what this means.

    And it’s unclear how anyone’s brain can be designed to obtain it.

    I fully agree. However well designed, blind chemistry cannot get us to responsible free rationality. The material brain cannot be the whole story.

    You are finally making some sense CR. Keep it up!

  13. 13
    Origenes says:

    Seversky, Goodusername

    Seversky: Oog’s belief that the tiger just wants to play leads him to run away and hide, which saves him from being eaten – on that occasion. It will also save him on any subsequent occasion. Until, as I wrote before, he decides that the tiger wants a friendly wrestle. That will end Oog’s line of descent in short order.

    Where does Oog’s decision, that the tiger wants a friendly wrestle, come from? Was it a mutation? If so, then Oog is simply unlucky, but that’s all in the (evolutionary) game. Or are you perhaps suggesting that Oog has free will, by which he can override his beliefs?
    Please don’t simply assume a responsible free rational agent to play a part in the story, because it is the explanandum — it is what needs to be explained. Goodusername does the same thing over and over.
    Sorry guys, you cannot explain A with A.

    Goodusername: If you believe (as I’m sure you do) that thinking straight and having a better understanding of one’s environment typically aids in making decisions that results in a better chance at survival – than you will believe that that’s what Natural Selection will typically favor. Period.

    Surely a responsible free rational survival expert is exactly what NS will favor, but you cannot have one for free. First you need to explain how evolutionary processes can produce a responsible free rational agent.
    You see, what we are modestly attempting to do here is to solve one part of that puzzle: ’How can reliable beliefs come into existence, given the modest tools that evolutionary theory has to offer?’
    So, you are indeed right that natural selection favors intelligent rational survival experts, but the problem is: first you need to explain their coming into existence by evolutionary means.

  14. 14
    Barry Arrington says:

    Critical Rationalist attempts to justify his belief in non-justification. Idiot.

    Pindi: “All I was doing was pointing out that your Oog example didn’t make sense.” You’re inability to understand the example is not the same as the example not making sense.

    GUN: “you will believe that that’s what Natural Selection will typically favor.” That word “typically” gives away the store.

    rvb8 gets red in the face, stamps his foot, and ignores the thrust of the example – that identical actions (hiding) result in identical survival rates and thus identical fitness.

  15. 15
    Barry Arrington says:

    CR: “None of our knowledge is true justified belief.”

    Origenes: “I do not know what this means.”

    Origenes, since knowledge is defined as justified true belief, CR is saying “none of our knowledge is knowledge.”

    He is saying we don’t know anything. He knows this.

    If that sounds stupid, it is because it is.

    It does no good to argue with such as he, because he has denied the very basis of reason. No, the only way to respond is to point out his idiocy and heap scorn on him. The scorn heaping part is especially important. If we ignore the fact that he is screamingly stupid and fail to point it out, some might be attracted to his pseudo-intellectual drivel. The nihilism at the foundation of his worldview is extremely dangerous.

  16. 16
    critical rationalist says:

    @origenes

    I’m referring to the epistemological idea that knowlege is justified, true belief.

    See this video for more details.

    And despite, the fact that theories are not out there for us to observe in the first place, “responsible free rationality” lets us obtain them? How does that work, exactly?

  17. 17
    Origenes says:

    CR: And despite, the fact that theories are not out there for us to observe in the first place, “responsible free rationality” lets us obtain them? How does that work, exactly?

    See, for instance, the Manhattan Project. Here you can see how a group of responsible free rational agents manage to obtain knowledge/theory about the atomic bomb.
    There are striking differences between a blind search and search conducted by responsible free rational agents — such as specifying a target, pattern-seeking, pattern-inventing and much more.

  18. 18
    critical rationalist says:

    @Barry

    BA: Origenes, since knowledge is defined as justified true belief, CR is saying “none of our knowledge is knowledge.”

    He is saying we don’t know anything. He knows this.

    I’m not saying what I said, because you omitted it when you quoted my comment? Apparently, you do think it’s a good strategy, as you just did it again.

    By dissolving justificationism itself, the critical rationalist regards knowledge and rationality, reason and science, as neither foundational nor infallible, but nevertheless does not think we must therefore all be relativists. Knowledge and truth still exist, just not in the way we thought.

    I couldn’t possibly actually mean that?

    Furthermore, your argument is no less parochial now than it was in the earlier thread.

    CR: IOW, your whole argument hinges on a very specific idea about truth. Specificity, the true belief theory of knowledge.

    You do realize this, don’t you?

    It seems you’re either ignorant of the philosophical assumptions your argument entails, or your deliberately omitted them because your preaching to the choir. Either way, it’s a parochial argument, in that it is limited in scope.

    So, let me fix that for you…

    Origenes, if knowledge is defined as justified true belief, CR is saying “none of our knowledge is knowledge.”

    However, my criticisms are in respect to that very definition. And you haven’t acknowledged, let along addressed any of them. It’s not that I think there is no knowledge, but that knowledge isn’t justified, true belief because that idea has not withstood critism. So, I think the definition is wrong. And that mistaken definition is a key part of why people do not accept Darwinism.

    Furthermore, in presenting this false dichotomy, it’s you who is promoting nihilism. You’re holding knowledge hostage unless we accept your philosophical and theological ideas.

    @origenes

    Note that Barry is saying that knowlege is justified, true belief. However, it’s unclear how he knows this as this would itself be knowelge. Is this ida also justified? If so, how? Or is he merely arguing by definition?

  19. 19
    goodusername says:

    Barry,

    GUN: “you will believe that that’s what Natural Selection will typically favor.” That word “typically” gives away the store.

    It doesn’t save Oog – it dooms him. That you somehow don’t see that is, indeed, flummoxing.

  20. 20
    tribune7 says:

    I think Barry is jerking chains and GUN et al are responding as expected.

  21. 21
    mike1962 says:

    C.S Lewis gave an example in Miracles about a little girl who would not eat “horrid red things”, that is, red berries, because somewhere along the line she acquired the idea that every red berry in nature is poisonous. Of course, we know that some red berries are poisonous and some are not. The girl’s false generalized belief that all red berries are poisonous would undoubtedly keep her alive if she was otherwise tempted to eat poisonous red berries. But her generalized belief is still, at least partially, false. What counts is her behavior, would save her from eating poisonous red berries.

    This leads to the interesting question of how humans could have developed genuine rational insight when it is so easy to be fooled into a false generalization (induction), even though certain facts that can lead to the induction are true.

    It never seemed to occur to [Darwin] that he was sawing off the branch on which his own theory was sitting. — Barry on the other thread

    Indeed. This is the main topic of C.S. Lewis’s Miracles. Worth a read by anyone interested in human reason and how it doesn’t fit into the naturalistic worldview without destroying its own credentials.

  22. 22

    “I hope our Darwinist friends appreciate the education in Darwinism I am giving them. I doubt they do.”

    I doubt they do as well.

    Also, calling them friends is a stretch, no? I understand that you are trying to maintain a friendly and cooperative manner, but let’s be honest. They are not your friends. They are your adversaries in a very important battle of ideas…and ideas have very real consequences.

    Mike1962 @ 21: Excellent comment.

  23. 23
    critical rationalist says:

    The ONLY way to actually measure relative fitness is to measure relative survival rates. If survival rates are the same, fitness is the same.

    Again, those ideas are not instantiated in Oog’s genome. As such, when he survives, those ideas will not be inhered to offspring by his genes.

    Genes play a causal role in being copied into the next generation’s genome and not all mutations result in the organism becoming more fit. Oog’s ideas about playing with tigers are not genetically inherited.

    From another thread…

    Take a hypothetical island with a hypothetical species of bird. Currently this species nests in May, which is optimal for the islands climate and food supply. However, due to the islands geography, not all nesting areas are equal in that some are significantly farther from food, more exposed to predators, etc.

    Now, hypothetically, one of these birds is born with a mutation that causes it to nest in April, which is a month earlier. As such, it gets the best nesting location. It also finds a suitable mate and has offspring, which also inherit this same mutation. While being born a month early is a sub optimal for the island’s climate and food supply, this is outweighed by the fact that they have the best nesting location. Next season, their offspring also nest earlier, obtain the best nesting locations, etc. This continues until eventually the early nesting mutation has spread throughout the entire population, which has made it less fit as a whole.

    If a bird is born with a mutation to nest a month later, which would again represent the optimal time, all of the best nesting locations would already be taken. The mutation would not spread thought the population. However, if a bird is born with a mutation to nest yet another month earlier, the process would repeat itself. This would results in the entire population is even less fit.

    At some point, mutations to nest earlier would eventually prove lethal to offspring. As such, if all things remain equal, there is a minimum level of fitness the entire species would maintain. But, this could still be far from the original fitness the species first exhibited. However, if the climate suddenly changes, such as cold weather last significantly longer in a season, the entire species could go extinct.

    So, rather than merely being “the survival of the fittest”, we say that genes are biological replicators, in that they play a causal role in their own replication by their environment. Furthermore, we include the organism itself as part of the gene’s environment. As such, it’s the genome itself that becomes better adapted to be replicated by it’s environment – even potentially at the expense of the the species becoming less fit as a whole.

    However, biological Darwinism falls under the same universal explanation for the growth of knowledge. Specifically, that knowledge grows via variation controlled by criticism of some sort. Knowledge is information that causes itself to be retrained in any storage medium, which includes brains and genomes. The actual contents of our theories, such as the best way to play with tigers, do not come from any authoritative source anymore than the variations of genes in biology come from some authoritative source.

    So before some “supernatural, non-material” means could allows us to choose between theories, they would need to first be available from some external source so they could be copied into our brains and selected. IOW, that’s a “supposed non-material solution” to a problem that doesn’t actually exist. Does being “non-material”, whatever that means, some how make that irrelevant? Can we somewho choose from the non-existiant contents of theories because “That’s just what some designer must have wanted”?

  24. 24
    goodusername says:

    I think Barry is jerking chains and GUN et al are responding as expected.

    I’ve been suspecting that for quite a while – and it’s actually what I’m hoping.

  25. 25
    tribune7 says:

    –I’ve been suspecting that for quite a while – and it’s actually what I’m hoping.–

    In your next exchange ask him how unthinking organisms can either plan for the future or determine truth.

  26. 26
    Florabama says:

    It appears that Darwinists are adapted for tap-dancing around basic logic when they encounter it.

  27. 27
    gooshy says:

    wont someone please post the story where some darwinist showed truth was nonadaptive? used a sim, as I recall. might help with the whooshing noises. Hehehehehe.

  28. 28
    Seversky says:

    Barry Arrington @ 4

    Seversky: “Until, as I wrote before, he decides that the tiger wants a friendly wrestle.” Sure, if you want to make up scenarios in which Oog doesn’t survive, you are welcome to. Why don’t you just say he read Schopenhauer and committed suicide. That would have as much relevance to the scenarios that are actually on the table as your comment does.

    Beliefs don’t necessarily cause a single pattern of behavior. In Oog’s case, his false belief that the tiger is not harmful might cause him to run and hide, which leads to his survival. On another occasion, it might cause him to run up to the tiger with the intention of having a playful wrestle. That will most likely lead to his death. Moog’s belief that the tiger is dangerous, on the other hand, will compel him to avoid any contact with the tiger whatsoever.

    If we compare just a single encounter with the tiger by Oog and Moog then both might survive. Over a long sequence of such encounters, however, Oog is at a much greater risk than Moog of making a fatal misjudgment which puts an end to him and his beliefs. True and false beliefs do not have equal survival value over the long term.

    Wow. In my last post I gave this challenge: “If you don’t think what I am saying is true, then cite a paper that argues for the opposite proposition: that truth is always adaptive and falsehood is always maladaptive.” As I mentioned above, last time I got [crickets]

    That’s because we all agree that false beliefs can have survival value – just not as much as true beliefs.

  29. 29
    Seversky says:

    Origenes @ 13

    Seversky: Oog’s belief that the tiger just wants to play leads him to run away and hide, which saves him from being eaten – on that occasion. It will also save him on any subsequent occasion. Until, as I wrote before, he decides that the tiger wants a friendly wrestle. That will end Oog’s line of descent in short order.

    Where does Oog’s decision, that the tiger wants a friendly wrestle, come from? Was it a mutation? If so, then Oog is simply unlucky, but that’s all in the (evolutionary) game. Or are you perhaps suggesting that Oog has free will, by which he can override his beliefs?
    Please don’t simply assume a responsible free rational agent to play a part in the story, because it is the explanandum — it is what needs to be explained. Goodusername does the same thing over and over.
    Sorry guys, you cannot explain A with A.

    This discussion has been about whether false beliefs can nonetheless improve the chances of survival of the individual who holds them and there seems to be general agreement that this could happen.

    The origin of such beliefs and the question of the extent to which we have free will to act on or ignore them is a fascinating and important question in itself. But it is a separate – albeit related – issue.

  30. 30
    rvb8 says:

    Barry,

    Ooog hides because he believes he and the tiger are in a fun game, and he wants to play with his friend? Correct?

    This behaviour results in his survival? Correct? This behaviour means it is just as sucessful behaviour as the actual reason predated animals survive; that is, to successfully pass on their genes, and a desire to live?

    Barry, no! Your imaginary survival strategum is flawed, because the motivation is not as powerful as avoiding death, and passing on DNA.

    Your Ooog’s motivation is fun, a lark, a walk in the park etc. Evolutionary motivation is the same motivation you use when you dive behind a car at the sound of gunfire.

    Your motivational analogy is all wrong, and Ooog’s chances at reproduction, (the ultimate driving force of evolution), is just plain weak. Ooog, and his maladpative parents have relied on dumb luck. And in the metaphorical race, that is evolution, they are stuck in the starting blocks.

    Next time, take evolution, and its laws more seriously, and come up with an analogy that isn’t half baked.

    Smiley face to show I am not, ‘red faced’, or, ‘stamping my foot.’ :))

  31. 31
    mike1962 says:

    That’s because we all agree that false beliefs can have survival value – just not as much as true beliefs.

    Even the ones you harbor now?

  32. 32
    Pindi says:

    TWSYF

    “They are your adversaries in a very important battle of ideas…and ideas have very real consequences.”

    True. And unfortunately for you and Barry you are on the losing side. Which I guess hurts and is what makes Barry carry on making a fool of himself. Either he seriously believes that a cave man who is so mentally challenged that he believes sabre tooth tigers are playthings will survive long enough to reproduce. Or he can’t admit when he is wrong. Those are the only two options. Neither is good for him.

  33. 33
    Barry Arrington says:

    rvb8

    Your imaginary survival strategum is flawed, because the motivation is not as powerful . . . Next time, take evolution, and its laws more seriously

    The whole point is that the nature and strength of the motivation is irrelevant. Natural selection is blind to mental images. All that counts is behavior. And in the example in the OP, the behavior was identical; therefore fitness was identical.

    Actually, rvb8, you should take evolutionary theory more seriously. You should study up on this. With both you and Sev, your intuition about what the theory ought to say has blinded you to what the theory actually says — as attested by literally dozens of theorists.

  34. 34
    asauber says:

    True.

    I’m sorry. This is an absolutist position. I can’t take such a statement seriously. It’s a racist social construct.

    /snarc

    Andrew

  35. 35
    Charles says:

    Barry Arrington @ 15:

    It does no good to argue with such as he, because he has denied the very basis of reason.

    One of the facets in these exchanges that is seldom explored is the plasticity of the human brain (it’s ability to “re-wire” itself) and the searability of the conscience (the propensity to increasigly rationalize even destructive behavior if the reward is gratifying).

    Drug addicts will rationailze their drug use (conscience being seared to avoid facing truth of self-destruction), all the while the brain re-wires itself to require ever more drug potency to get the same “high” (brain plasticity). A similar addiction occurs with pornography and violence. Addicts rationalize they are “desensitized” but the behavior is toward ever more intense consumption.

    A similar, parallel effect manifests among the more ardent materialists here. They desire to prove their materialism true, so as to a) be admired by fellow materialists and b) avoid acknowledging the consequences if their materialism is false and an “intelligent designer” is true.

    What started (ostensibly years ago, perhaps in adolesence or young adulthood) as mere derision of “creationists” has devolved into feverish denial and elision of disconfirmational facts and evidence. They have been on that slippery slope of uncritical thinking for so long that their brains have literally adjusted to forgetting past arguments lost and facts irrefuted; their brains have scant recollection of past failures from which to learn. The brain is plastic, and their brains have rewired around memories & methods of analyzing disconfirming facts in favor of rewarding their ego with false victory. Similar to a “high” inducing drug that mandates ever more potent drugs to get “high”, the materialists’ need for amoral affirmation descends into ever more absurd illogic to achive that feeling of intellectual “victory” (or at least avoid admitting intellectual failure).

    Their ability to think critically is, at best out of practice, and at worst rusted and frozen.

    Their rewired uncritical brains are aided and abetted by an increasingly seared conscience that doesn’t consider right or wrong, true or false, fact or fantasy, when rationalizing their fight against immaterialism or rather “creationism” (their mental bogey man). Their seared consciences justify winning at all costs, including lying for the cause. In charitable circles this is also known as “noble cause corruption”.

    Yes, the materialists here deny the very basis of reason. They can do no other. They’re trapped by years of the plastic brain and malleable conscience “re-learning” in a Pavlovian manner to deny the very basis of reason. They can no longer help themselves.

    No, the only way to respond is to point out his idiocy and heap scorn on him. … If we ignore the fact that he is screamingly stupid and fail to point it out, some might be attracted to his pseudo-intellectual drivel.

    Yes. Just like an addiction or self-destruction requires an “intervention”, a denial of self-evident facts and the basis for reason requires a “shock” to jar the senses. Heaping scorn is the intellectual equivalent of: (slap, slap, then yelling) “Snap out of it man!!!”

    And while the “materialist interlocutors” here may be too far gone to recover, it reveals to the onlooker where the slippery slope of uncritical thinking ends.

    The proof is self-evident in their silence or evasion, deflection, and attempts to change the argument to one they’d rather have, all equally blatant.

  36. 36
    critical rationalist says:

    @Barry

    First, I would again point out that Oog’s behavior is based on knowelge in his brain, not his genome.

    As you indicated, Oog’s brain could have also contained the knowlege that tigers are dangerous and want to eat you. So, in your scenario, there is nothing about the physical design of his brain that results in it having one idea or another. It’s capable of containing both equally. So, his offspring will have a brain that is capable of containing both ideas equally as well. His behavior is based on an idea that was acquired during his lifetime and stored in his brain, as opposed to due to a variation in his genes during reproduction, or due to HGT, hybridization, etc.

    As such, his death or survival would not necessarily caused that belief to be passed down to his offspring. Unless that knowege plays a causal role retained by being copied into a storage medium, this does not represent biological Darwinism.

    Again, this seems to represent a gross, fundamental missunderstanding about the very subject you’re supposedly “teaching” us about.

    Second, when Newton’s laws of motion were replaced by Einstein’s GR, did we need to rebuild bridges and buildings? No we did not. And we did not despite the fact that GR assumes somelthing completely different is happening there, in reality. (Sound familiar?)

    Furthermore, while Newton’s laws are false, and therefore cannot be used to build a global posisitioning system (GPS), it is close enough of approximation for use when launching spacecraft. So, Oog’s brain could could also contain a theory that could safely launch himself though space and land back on earth, using a false theory.

    Even then, we know that quantum mechanics, GR or possibly both, are false because we have no working theory of quantum gravity. Yet, we can use GR to create GPS systems. And they are incomplete, because no theory can explain everything.

    Again, this reflects the earlier criticism of the idea that knowlege is justified, true belief, because justification is impossible, often contains errors and is incomplete and is independent of anyone’s belief.

    The same can be said for Oog’s knowege about tigers. Something completely different was happening in reality (as there was in the case of Newton’s laws) as the tiger wanted to eat him, rather than play (which, BTW, is a very vague distinction in the case of tigers who do not “want” anything like we do.) Yet, they are close enough of an approximation to allow him to escape danger. Oog wouldn’t have to change what he does to escape the tiger any more than we have to rebuild bridges and buildings when we found out that Newton’s laws were false.

    Again, it’s software, not hardware. If you start out with the knowelge that our ideas don’t come from some authorative source and are educated guesses, then you want to criticize them. Had Oog done that, he would have either died or come up with some way to safely test that idea so it could die in his place.

    Even then, it seems likely that criticism of that idea would have happened without him setting out to do so intentionaly. Who want’s to play the same game over and over again? Who’s to say that Oog always sees the tiger first? What if there are no caves near by or he is sick or injured? Slam goes the wall of reality.

    Oog would live the same life that the majority of humans lived, with effectively the same brains as we have, for tens of thousands of years. He didn’t make progress because, in your scenario, he didn’t know how. Neither did we.

    And, apparently, neither do you, if you think we know things because “that’s just what inexplicable mind that exists in some inexpclable realm that operates via some inexplicable means or method, wanted.”

  37. 37
    critical rationalist says:

    Note: we could just as well replace Barry with Oog. Except Barry’s brain contains the false idea that knowlege comes from authorative sources, as opposed to tigers like to play and the best way to do, just that, is to play hide and seek.

    Despite the fact that I’m suggesting something completely different was happening there, in realty, this doesn’t mean there is no knowege!

    Or to say it another way, being confused about how knowege grows, is not the same as saying there is no knowege. Just as saying we were confused about the motions of objects doesn’t mean we have to rebuild bridges and buildings.

  38. 38
    ET says:

    Pindi:

    And unfortunately for you and Barry you are on the losing side.

    Joke- seeing that you and yours still don’t know how to test the claims of your position it is clear that you have already lost.

  39. 39

    Pindi @ 32: Methinks it is you who is making a fool of himself…and on a regular basis. Natural selection has not been kind to you.

  40. 40

    BA @ 33: “Actually, rvb8, you should take evolutionary theory more seriously. You should study up on this. With both you and Sev, your intuition about what the theory ought to say has blinded you to what the theory actually says…”

    Well said.

  41. 41
    Origenes says:

    Seversky @29

    Sev: This discussion has been about whether false beliefs can nonetheless improve the chances of survival of the individual who holds them and there seems to be general agreement that this could happen.

    I’d go even further and claim that, given evolutionism, beliefs are most likely untrue — an adaptive belief which is true is an exception to the rule.

    Sev: The origin of such beliefs and the question of the extent to which we have free will to act on or ignore them is a fascinating and important question in itself.

    Let’s be clear about the fact that the topic is utterly uninteresting to the naturalist, since there is no way in hell she’ll be able to ground free will.

    Sev: But it is a separate – albeit related – issue.

    Fine, let me just say that I hope that you, and kindred spirits in this thread, better your ways, restrict yourself to mechanistic evolutionary explanations and keep free will out of all this.

  42. 42
    Belfast says:

    Boy, have you Severskis exposed yourselves.

    Ignore the premise, pick holes in the example. I haven’t seen such meandering hairsplitting since leaving Uni.

    Answer his challenge, cite authority.

    Barry’s point is uncontentious, you just don’t like to face it, that’s all.

  43. 43
    rvb8 says:

    Some time ago, (not exactly sure), Barry was caught in a similar predicament. That is, having made an ill-conceived assertion, or bogus observation, or silly analogy, rather than saying, ‘I’m sorry, that was an ill-conceived assertion, bogus observation, or silly analogy’, doubled and trippled down.

    I think it was some silly assertion about Gravity being the most powerful force in the universe. People desperately tried to explain to him that, although gravity may be considered the ‘sculpture’ of nature, other forces (the strong nuclear forces binding atoms etc), were actually far more powerful. Heh:) Barry just wouldn’t let go:)

    Barry, an Ooog, is an impossible proposition for ‘selection’, he would be robustly ‘selected’ against, as would his parents, and grandparents, right back to the unlucky ancestor with the unlucky genetic mutation that caused them to think, ‘Tigers are play things!’

    Really Barry, take the Laws of Evolution more seriously, and you won’t find yourself in these embarassing fo-pahs again.

  44. 44
    kairosfocus says:

    RVB8, are you aware that neither our eyes or ears give a simple, straight, “flat” rendering of the realities of light and sound? Do you appreciate the Weber-Fechner log-response law that in effect means there is signal compression and response to fractional not absolute changes? Are you aware of the peaked nature of visual response, even within the octave of the EM spectrum it responds to? What ULTRA violet and INFRA red originally meant i/l/o discoveries that there was more that we were not seeing? Similarly for ULTRA and INFRA sound? Etc? In short, our main means of interaction with and awareness of the world give us a model view not a simple direct view. Models are by definition false but useful frameworks for handling aspects of the world. That’s why we speak of regions of validity and empirical reliability. etc. That BTW takes in a LOT of science. Next, we can insert the point BA aptly made and which it seems every bit of rhetorical gymnastics has been used to strawmannise or evade: differential reproductive success is a matter of behaviour in niches, not of accuracy of beliefs, perceptions, models etc . . . which from Darwin on have been a major bugbear of evolutionary accounts of mind. Where, finally, responsible, rational freedom is inherently unreachable from evolutionary materialism, which is a self-referential absurdity as such theories crucially depend on our being able to reason, discuss, respond based on evidence and know. The rhetorical antics above and in previous threads where these and similar points have come up simply underscore just how on-target the issue is. Evolutionary materialism is incoherent, self-refuting, intellectually and morally bankrupt. As we can see all around us as it and its fellow traveller ideologies increasingly lead our civilisation on a march of suicidally ruinous folly, all the time pretending to be “science.” It seems that only when we have gone off the cliff that many will be woken up by the pain of trying to live as a broken-backed civilisation. Posterity will rise up and for cause deem us a hell-bent, foolish, accursed generation who refused to acknowledge the truth about ourselves. That starts with the holocaust of 800++ million unborn children slaughtered since the 1970’s and so also with the depraved minds and benumbed consciences thereby revealed. Such guilt warps ability to see and think straight and is powerful as a point that shows just how bankrupt we are. KF

  45. 45
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Spectral response of eye: http://www.telescope-optics.ne.....sponse.htm note on intensity response: http://www.telescope-optics.ne.....sponse.htm

    On response to X radiation (a fascinating little informal experiment): http://aapt.scitation.org/doi/10.1119/1.1974240 Do not do this at home! But note the inversion of the normal fluorescent screen image vs the direct X-ray image indicating the latter is by response of the retina, bypassing the lens.

    Could this last be part of the response of people who saw atom bomb tests even when they were turned away from the bomb and had eyes closed etc?

    After all, X rays fog film, indeed that is part of how they were recognised. This points to similarity of relevant energy levels for transitions in the sensing system, of order of eV.

  46. 46
    rvb8 says:

    kairos @44,

    eh?

  47. 47
    kairosfocus says:

    RVB8, that tactic is playing dumb or pretending relevant facts are not relevant. I am too busy to play silly agit prop games, but I paused as this thread was getting beyond the pale. I just documented that our major senses present us with a model, not an accurate perception of reality. Those senses shape beliefs and behaviour and can and do contribute to reproductive success without being exactly accurate, making the core point coming out the starting gates. This then presents all the issues raised in the OP, in a context where even our most important senses are not a precise 1:1 copy of reality. Oog as playing hide and go seek with overgrown tabby cats is not essentially different from this point, though it is a rhetorical flourish. The main issue is that beliefs, worldviews and perceptions shape behaviour and can be amenable to differential reproductive success without being precisely accurate to reality, which is now on the table. So, too, is the point that the evolutionary materialist undermining of responsible rational freedom in favour of trying to squeeze knowing mind out of a blindly mechanical, blindly programmed computational substrate leading to self-referential incoherence and undermining of knowledge itself. KF

    PS: And, don’t even think about switching over to the Kantian ugly gulch line of thought.

  48. 48
    soundburger says:

    kairos, thank you. I truly don’t know what the deal with rv is, but he is flying in the face of scientific evidence and consensus to a further degree than he believes those he disagrees with do. Even his hero Dawkins continually points out that most of what-is-real slips by us. We, according to Dawkins, and I think most others, evolved to survive in the African savannah, not to fully experience the totality of the material universe. Our brains developed highly sophisticated weeding out mechanisms so that we didn’t drown ourselves in stimuli on a regular basis and be unable to recognize important things to our survival, such as the scent of food or the movement of a possible predator. NOTHING is new about any of this. It’s as basic evolutionary science as one can hope to encounter. None of us, ever, see the ‘truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’. Does rv understand this?

  49. 49
    tribune7 says:

    I can’t say that I’m following this discussion perfectly but it has dawned on me that it has absolutely nothing to do with evolution.

    Oog and the tiger is a nurture thing not a nature thing. Animals fear man. Why? Because they have gene that says run when they smell us? No, it’s because the adults (or their ancestors) have seen man kill and so they run hence the pups run too. It’s learned.

    Animals can lose this fear hence the signs saying Don’t feed the bears.

    Of course, this works the other way. If Oog is raised with tame, friendly tigers he won’t be afraid of tigers. It doesn’t matter if this belief causes his death before he procreates as it won’t be passed on genetically.

    As I said I’m missing a point here. Evolution can explain some things but it can’t explain everything.

  50. 50
    Origenes says:

    Tribune7: Oog and the tiger is a nurture thing not a nature thing. … it’s because the adults (or their ancestors) have seen man kill and so they run hence the pups run too. It’s learned.

    Hypothesizing that it is nurture — that beliefs and behavior are learned — is not a solution, but, instead, pushes the need for an evolutionary explanation back one level. The question becomes: How did former generations acquire the information?
    Well, if we are going to answer that question from an evolutionary standpoint, instead of insisting that it is turtles all the way down, then, obviously, at some point, a random belief-behavior system got selected.

  51. 51
    tribune7 says:

    Origenes: Well, if we are going to answer that question from an evolutionary standpoint, instead of insisting that it is turtles all the way down, then, obviously, at some point, a random belief-behavior system got selected.

    It’s why evolutionary dogma is not science. It demands that all evidence fit the answer even when the evidence contradicts it.

    Ironically, it is exactly the same as creation science i.e. starting with the conclusion rather than the evidence.

  52. 52
    gooshy says:

    Oh my…is there a patron saint for people like this? Its accepted that truth/reality isnt just irrelevant to survival, it’s MALADAPTIVE. A net negative. This ‘reasoning’ is required by the atheist disconnect re brain and mind. Dis the analogy all u like, its still an accurate reflection of current thinking, and highlights the sheer absurdity thereof.

  53. 53
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    Have to say, I’m with rvb8 on this one. Huh?

    Do you realize that, despite supposedly being designed, Barry’s Oog described the vast majority of human history, right? These were people with effectively the same brains as we have today. However, there lives were dominated by useful rules of thumb that bore little resemblance to the truth. Virtually nothing new was learned for generation after generation. They wanted to make progress but simply did not. Why? Because they didn’t know how. Neither did Oog.

    Furthermore, Its unclear how despite some designer supposdling wanting us to, we are still don’t end up with knowege as justified, true belief. Knowelge isn’t justified because justification is impossible. And knowlege isn’t true because it is always incomplete and contains errors to some degree. In addition, knowege is independent of anyone’s belief. I’ve made arguments to this effect which no one has addressed. Namely, the scenario of being accidentally set the plans or a boat, intstead of a car, etc. Desipte being an intelligent agent, one’s belief, intent or desire won’t cause you to end up with a car instead of a boat. Right?

    I mean, what gives? I keep making this argument and no one has any response. This isn’t exactly rocket science. It’s merely trying to take your theory seriously, as if were true in reality. So, how is this not a valid criticism? What is your response to it, other than calling it a “trick” or the response of a “depraved mind”, whatever thats supposed to mean?

    Is criticism somehow less valid depending on where it comes from? Good criticism is good critism because of its content, not its source. So, why isn’t this good criticism?

    Last but not least, even if God magically did give us the ability to somehow “choose” between external theories about how the world works, that would stil require there to actually be theories out there to choose from, in the first place, that we can derive from observations. And, as I’ve argued, the contents of our theories are not derived from observation. So, apparently, not only does God magically cause our brains to be “designed for truth” but he somehow magically allows us to chose from non-existent theories as well?

  54. 54
    tribune7 says:

    CR–In addition, knowledge is independent of anyone’s belief.–

    You mean truth is independent of belief. Thinking you know something isn’t knowing something. We laugh at things that were common understanding a thousand years ago. Without a telescope heliocentrism does not become accepted.

    Ultimately, it comes down to faith for everybody and everything.

    BTW, why do you use the phrase “God magically”? God-fearing people generally don’t believe in magic.

  55. 55
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, why am I not surprised? First, look at the already linked on how vision works and then ponder how models move away from actual reality to create “simplifications” or “abstractions” or “representations” of key features or focal aspects that amount to being useful fictions. This will allow you to see that utility is not a demonstration of accuracy to reality, especially when simplification leads to rapid adequate action in a situation. Beyond, focus the point that it is behaviours in the world not invisible beliefs that count for differential reproductive success in a context of variation. This is held to trigger descent with modification — aka adaptation — which is further held by Darwinists to be cumulatively unlimited leading to the branching tree of life or the like. The rhetorical flourish of the story of Oog draws attention to this by highlighting implications for trying to draw out the credibility of mindedness from computational substrates which have hardware and software shaped by strictly blind processes of chance and mechanical necessity. The reactions and even triggering that have been going on simply tell us the point hits home hard and that there is no cogent evolutionary materialist answer — which instantly extends to fellow travellers. Given that this is a context of reduction to self-referential incoherence for supporters of such, that is no surprise. The rhetorical flourish simply draws attention to what is usually studiously ignored, or is dismissed without serious consideration. Thus, it serves its purpose, especially when we see so many stilted attempts to dismiss it. KF

  56. 56
    EugeneS says:

    Paraphrasing some outright Darwinists, to anyone with a brain (c) it is clear now that the Darwinian model has been totally debunked 😉

    Trying to explain the obvious to somebody who is unwilling to engage and acting like a whimsical child is to waste time.

  57. 57
    EugeneS says:

    By now of course I mean the 21st century 😉

  58. 58
    rvb8 says:

    kairos @55,

    “The rhetorical flourish of the story of Ooog…”

    kairos, Barry’s story of an imaginary caveman, playing out a survival incident by playing a game with a pinnacle carnivore, is not, ‘rhetorical flourish’. It is a patronising attempt at mocking his childish carricature of a scientific theory.

    When I said ‘eh?’, at 46, it was because your post was wildly emotional (‘800 million++ unborn children slaughtered..’), deliberately obscure, (‘self referential absurdity’, What does this mean?), and invoking the obscure, (‘Do you appreciate the Weber-Fechner log response law…?’).

    Kairos, I have said this umpteen times, ID gets no where because it deliberately, or not, is unintelligable. Your posts are perfect examples of psudo-science gone off the tracks.

    When you and ID can explain your idea as simply as, “descent with modification”, you may be on to something. But endless dense posts, that leave the reader scratching their heads, will simply allianate your supposed grass roots; intelligent, honest, Christians.

    Try again, with less emotional absurdity, and more reliance on something testable.

    Barry’e imaginary Ooog, is a train wreck of an idea, for the very simple evolutionary fact, that such a creature would fail to reproduce as it would long ago have been predated, because of its seriously flawed views about carnivores.

    Now, that last sentence explains the evolutionary position succinctly, try that with ID; that is, less padding, waffle, emotion, and bluster.

  59. 59
    Seversky says:

    kairosfocus @ 44

    RVB8, are you aware that neither our eyes or ears give a simple, straight, “flat” rendering of the realities of light and sound? Do you appreciate the Weber-Fechner log-response law that in effect means there is signal compression and response to fractional not absolute changes? Are you aware of the peaked nature of visual response, even within the octave of the EM spectrum it responds to? What ULTRA violet and INFRA red originally meant i/l/o discoveries that there was more that we were not seeing? Similarly for ULTRA and INFRA sound? Etc?

    You are aware that everything you’ve described above is based on a materialist/physicalist account of the nature of objective reality?

    In short, our main means of interaction with and awareness of the world give us a model view not a simple direct view. Models are by definition false but useful frameworks for handling aspects of the world. That’s why we speak of regions of validity and empirical reliability. etc. That BTW takes in a LOT of science.

    It would be better to acknowledge that our models or accounts or narratives are neither absolutely true nor false. They vary in the degree to which they can be observed to correspond with what they purport to describe but it is misleading to think in absolutist terms of black-and-white or true-and-false.

    Our best current theories of relativity and quantum physics arose out of a growing awareness of the limits of Newtonian mechanics. They have proven to be phenomenally accurate and enabled us to do things we could not have done without them. But good as they are, there is still a problem. How are the two to be reconciled? Apparently, neither is the whole picture but does this make them totally false?

    Next, we can insert the point BA aptly made and which it seems every bit of rhetorical gymnastics has been used to strawmannise or evade: differential reproductive success is a matter of behaviour in niches, not of accuracy of beliefs, perceptions, models etc . . . which from Darwin on have been a major bugbear of evolutionary accounts of mind.

    Yes, evolution discriminates between behaviors. But, in humans, behavior is influenced by beliefs, perceptions, models, etc. There appears to be no way for those beliefs to be encoded in our genes but then that isn’t really necessary if they can be passed from person-to-person and from generation to generation by other intellectual capabilities such as the capacity for language. This could influence survival rates much more quickly than natural selection and could be one of the reasons we find it advantageous to support such a resource-hungry organ as the brain. There is certainly a problem in explaining in detail how the phenomena we call ‘mind’ are generated by the activity of the physical brain but it is clear the two are intimately connected and the current lack of an explanation doesn’t mean there never will be one

    Where, finally, responsible, rational freedom is inherently unreachable from evolutionary materialism, which is a self-referential absurdity as such theories crucially depend on our being able to reason, discuss, respond based on evidence and know. The rhetorical antics above and in previous threads where these and similar points have come up simply underscore just how on-target the issue is. Evolutionary materialism is incoherent, self-refuting, intellectually and morally bankrupt

    Evolutionary materialism is neither incoherent nor self-refuting although, like all other theories, it is far from complete. As from being intellectually bankrupt, it is not only the best framework theory available to account for the nature of life on Earth, it continues to drive research on a scale that ID can only dream of. As for moral bankruptcy, evolutionary biology deals with the nature of life on Earth. Morals are not its business.

    As we can see all around us as it and its fellow traveller ideologies increasingly lead our civilisation on a march of suicidally ruinous folly, all the time pretending to be “science.” It seems that only when we have gone off the cliff that many will be woken up by the pain of trying to live as a broken-backed civilisation. Posterity will rise up and for cause deem us a hell-bent, foolish, accursed generation who refused to acknowledge the truth about ourselves. That starts with the holocaust of 800++ million unborn children slaughtered since the 1970’s and so also with the depraved minds and benumbed consciences thereby revealed. Such guilt warps ability to see and think straight and is powerful as a point that shows just how bankrupt we are. KF

    Human civilization has always been a bloody awful mess overall. The so-called ‘golden ages’ of various societies have usually been cherry-picked islands of relative peace and stability in a worldwide morass of human misery. That’s why I’m not impressed with apocalyptic visions and chest-beating, hair-shirt wearing, self-flagellating sermons of guilt. We may well all be going to hell in a handbasket but until the majority become starkly aware of the danger, I doubt that much will change. Unfortunately, the God who by some accounts could actually do something about it all seems to be notable by His absence. Maybe He’s there and maybe He’s not but either way it looks like we’re on our own.

  60. 60
    kairosfocus says:

    Seversky, false. The response of the eye isa a measured thing and it does not require any commitment to evolutionary materialism to take such measurements. Measurements behind things like colour TV. You have conflated science with the self-refuting ideology of evolutionary materialism, which does like to dress itself up in the lab coat. KF

  61. 61
    kairosfocus says:

    RVB8, projection in face of facts. Several times in your presence the basis for the scaling of the death toll of the abortion holocaust has been presented, so your pretence that an UNDERESTIMATE is ’emotion” is deceitful. Guttmacher and UN as brought to attention through BBC (as in about 1 mn abortions per week currently) and followed up are not matters of empty emotion, where a linear growth model across 40 years and knock off 20% is actually an underestimate. The further point is, to support and sustain that mass slaughter of posterity in the womb . . . and that too is fact . . . our generation has willfully blinded itself and benumbed its conscience, corrupting media, education, parliaments, laws, courts and more. And, to be concerned and to challenge holocaust in progress is an APPROPRIATE response; it is trying to make it out to be “a nuh nutten” that is deplorable enabling behaviour. Perhaps, you need to read Pastor Niemoller and others such as the White Rose martyrs. Where, with that amount of warping and corruption in the culture and its institutions, it is utterly unsurprising that we are on the whole so debased in our thinking. As for the basic fact that vision exemplifies just how accuracy and functional effectiveness can diverge, that is already well established. I have pointed out the problem of getting to responsibly, rationally free knowing mind from blindly built and programmed mechanical computational substrates. As for the point that differential reproductive success is tied to behaviours not beliefs or truth, that is equally massively documented. The reactions we are seeing therefore inadvertently tell us a lot. KF

  62. 62
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    First, look at the already linked on how vision works and then ponder how models move away from actual reality to create “simplifications” or “abstractions” or “representations” of key features or focal aspects that amount to being useful fictions.

    Except, they don’t move away from actual realty since we don’t start with actual realty in the first place. Observations those models are based on are themselves theory laden, etc. You cannot extrapolate observations without first putting them into some kind of explanatory theory. That always comes first. What you’re assuming is that experience is an authoritative source of knowledge that we can turn to as a last resort. And I’ve presented criticism of that idea. Rather, knowledge starts out as educated guesses which get closer to reality via criticism of some form. As Barry pointed out, they slam into the wall of reality.

    Apparently, you think theory doesn’t come first because “that’s just what some designer must have wanted” or “a designer somehow designed us for truth”?

    Beyond, focus the point that it is behaviors in the world not invisible beliefs that count for differential reproductive success in a context of variation. This is held to trigger descent with modification — aka adaptation — which is further held by Darwinists to be cumulatively unlimited leading to the branching tree of life or the like.

    Behaviors are based on some kind of knowledge, which isn’t justified, true belief.

    If the behavior was based on Oog’s genes, in that he lacks some low level, instinctual fear of unknown agents that might harm him, this would manifest itself beyond just tigers. If he does not have this instinctual fear, then there are other predators in his environment that will likely kill him, such as other animals and even other contemporaries.

    And lets not forget the tendency to project agency of some sort everywhere, which would be a useful behavior, could also cause us to project agency in places there is none, like the rustle of grass, or anger in thunder, or the features of an organism, or the laws of physics of the universe, or events that results in them being unharmed in an accident or the remission of a disease, such as cancer, etc.

    However, nothing in our instinct is as elaborate as playing hide and seek with just tigers, which would be an idea that exists in Oog’s brain, not his genome. Oog’s brain could just as well contain the idea that tigers want to eat him and that hiding in a cave would be the best way to interact with them. Even then, some animals that are raised by humans cannot be released into the wild because they no longer fear humans or other predators. This lack of fear will not be present in future generations unless they to are also raised by human beings, etc.

    IOW, future behavior based on reproductive success actually depends on that knowledge getting pasted on in offspring. So, an idea in Oog’s brain or the conditioning of an animal will not get passed down due to reproductive selection. Rather, it is acquired during the lifetime, not due to a mutation of their genes during replication or something like HGT. It’s unclear why this is so difficult to comprehend or why someone with knowledge of biological Darwinism wouldn’t realize this.

    To use my analogy, a modern day Oog orders a manual on “How to Interact with Tigers”. However, unknown to Oog, he actually receives the contents of the manual of “How to Interact with Kittens”

    Specially, the publisher used the manual of “How to Interact with Kittens” as a template for the manual on tigers. He changes the title to “How to best interact with Tigers”, does a search and replace to exchange “kittens” with “tigers” and then saves the document. He then goes about updating the rest of the content with the appropriate actions for tigers. However, he gets distracted by some urgent issue, thinks he saved the document, his computer crashes, etc. What actually ends up with an incomplete update that retains the knowledge about how to interact with kittens instead of tigers. Oog receives it and follows the instructions.

    Regardless of what Oog believes or his intention, etc. He will only survive if the knowledge of how to safely interact with tigers is actually present there.

    So, at some point, the evolution of human beings took a back seat to the evolution of our ideas. Both represent the growth of knowledge.

    The rhetorical flourish of the story of Oog draws attention to this by highlighting implications for trying to draw out the credibility of mindedness from computational substrates which have hardware and software shaped by strictly blind processes of chance and mechanical necessity.

    We currently don’t know why people are conscious, have a unique self of sense, etc. We have several leading theories, but none stand out to the degree necessary to be “the” theory of conciseness However, we do know that brains are storage mediums. And knowledge is information that plays a causal role in being retained when embedded in a storage medium. So, in many cases, knowledge fits the definition of a constructor because it causes transformations from input substrates to output substrates without being changed. Some other information does not play that casual role. And some other knowledge does play some other role, but in a different situation.

    This is not random, in the sense that you’re implying. Nor can intelligent agents merely choose for some bits on a flash drive to play a specific causal role, such as curing cancer. If that were the case, the medical community, being intelligent agents, would have a cure for cancer right now. But we do not.

    IOW, there is no evolutionary materialist answer to how to ground our knowledge because knowledge isn’t grounded in anything. That it needs to be grounded is a epistemological idea about knowledge. How can you justified the idea that ideas need to be justified? I’m not suggesting that. I’m saying that we started out by conjecturing many ideas about what knowledge could be. And then we set about criticizing, them.

    Actually, that’s not true. Not all conjectured ideas about knowledge include the idea that knowledge should be criticized. Some conjectured ideas about knowledge include, well, the idea that only some knowledge is subject to criticism. And those who hold it consider those ideas are immune to criticism.

    IOW, they think the idea that ideas must be justified is not an idea that is subject to criticism! They refuse to accept criticisms of it because of that very conjectured idea that considered it immune! It’s a vicious circle.

  63. 63
    ET says:

    Seversky:

    As from being intellectually bankrupt, it is not only the best framework theory available to account for the nature of life on Earth…

    LoL! And yet it cannot account for the nature of life on earth. Heck given starting populations of prokaryotes yours doesn’t have a mechanism capable of getting beyond more populations of prokaryotes. And forget about the origin of living organisms.

    it continues to drive research on a scale that ID can only dream of.

    Nonsense. It doesn’t drive any research. No one uses it for anything. The concept is totally useless.

  64. 64
    Origenes says:

    CR: So, let me fix that for you…

    … if knowledge is defined as justified true belief, CR is saying “none of our knowledge is knowledge.”

    “None of our knowledge is knowledge”, including the knowledge that “none of our knowledge is knowledge.”

    You are not making sense CR. Stop it already.

  65. 65
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, reality is that which is, whether or no we know or even suspect it. Thus, it is an origin of thought; e.g. truth is that which says of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, as Ari put it. When therefore I described models as moving away from reality into “simplifications” etc, I spoke to how models as a rule are useful fictions — yes fictions not truths — that can be empirically reliable in a zone of calibrated validity. It turns out our visual system uses sensors that have peaked sensitivity to varying frequencies, and that our sense is a log response (approximately), e,g. as seen from stellar magnitudes. That is a start-point for dealing with the gap between useful perception and belief etc on the one part, truth on the second, and differential reproductive success on the third. All of which cuts away the rhetorical distractors and brings us back to focus on the OP’s point. KF

  66. 66
    Seversky says:

    kairosfocus @ 60

    Seversky, false. The response of the eye isa a measured thing and it does not require any commitment to evolutionary materialism to take such measurements. Measurements behind things like colour TV. You have conflated science with the self-refuting ideology of evolutionary materialism, which does like to dress itself up in the lab coat. KF

    No, I’m pointing out that phenomena such as the process by which photons of image-forming light are transduced into electro-chemical signals in the retina have been described in purely physical or material terms. In the absence of any compelling evidence for design, how the eye came to be the way it is the province of evolutionary biology. Since it is not unreasonable to assume that the eye, as a physical system, is the current endpoint of complex chains of physical cause and effect. In other words, it is the evolution of a physical system. Evolutionary materialism as an ideology is, in my view, no more than a rhetorical device which attempts to prise the theory of evolution away from the enterprise of science for purely ideological and religious reasons.

  67. 67
    kairosfocus says:

    Seversky, absence of evidence for design you are prepared to acknowledge is not the same as absence of “compelling” evidence for design. To see that, simply provide ONE observed case of origin of functionally specific complex, coherently organisation and/or information beyond 500 – 1,000 bits that definitively comes from blind chance and/or mechanical necessity without intelligently directed configuration. There are trillions of cases of such FSCO/I by known design, and for instance the computer or the like you are using will show processes of mechanical interaction with inputs, procesing and transformation to yield outputs, handling of noise and other chance factors, yielding functional outputs all based on intelligently directed configuration. That said, you have dragged the focus away from the directly relevant point. Namely, that the eye and onward elements of our visual system process based on selective filtering through sensitivity response curves in accord with a more or less log compressed framework, creating a model of the world that for instance is distinctly not a flat response to colour. The peak is of course Y. Green. In some cases, shifted sensitivities give rise to a muddying of distinctions, AKA certain sorts of colour blindness, which are currently addressed by use of dark glasses that apply a pre-filter, yielding dramatic, tear inducing improved colour vision. Tha, BTW,t is itself suggestive on how we must learn to address comparative difficulties analysis of worldviews. The further point is, that functional effectiveness, differential reproductive success and accuracy or truth are three different things which bear no simple relationship. Further to this, I am confident that you cannot show by objective, observation led means, how a FSCO/I rich computational substrate and linked programming can arise by blind chance and/or mechanical necessity, or how such can attain to the sort of rational responsible freedom that is required for reasoning, warranting and knowing truth. That is, Darwin’s dilemma of the mind to get to his theories is still with us. So is the selective hyperskepticism he used that failed to see the self-referential incoherence in his arguments. KF

  68. 68
    ET says:

    Seversky:

    No, I’m pointing out that phenomena such as the process by which photons of image-forming light are transduced into electro-chemical signals in the retina have been described in purely physical or material terms.

    The same goes for the image on a TV- electro-chemical signals that have been described in a purely physical or material world. Cars? Purely electro-chemical-mechanical.

    In the absence of any compelling evidence for design, how the eye came to be the way it is the province of evolutionary biology.

    The entire thing, ie the vision system, is more than compelling evidence for ID. What else is there? How many just-so mutations are you allowing under a scientific scenario?

    Again, your position cannot get beyond populations of prokaryotes and that is given starting populations of prokaryotes.

    So what, exactly, do you have besides your story-telling?

  69. 69
    rvb8 says:

    ET,

    1.) Say this three times; ‘No scientists use evolutionary theory in any of their work, No scientists use…’

    2.) Spin around three times and touch wood.

    3.) Hey presto, a new ID fact.

  70. 70
    Eugene S says:

    RVB

    “Try again, with less emotional absurdity, and more reliance on something testable.”

    Very good! Give us an example.

    All your defence of evolutionary theory is off the point simply because even to start evolution requires information processing. In order to get to a population of self-reproducing machines (the starting point for biological evolution), one requires a semantically closed symbolic description of those machines. Such a description, to be semantically closed, should include a description of the interpreter of that description!

    This is a stopper conundrum for naturalism. That is why I think that, IMHO, ID would have merit even if it were limited only to its negative part, i.e. to demonstrating the impossibility of non-telic emergence of the first ever {code,interpreter} pair. The positive ID part consists in demonstrating that the only empirically warranted source of that pair is intelligence external to it.

    Instead of your uninteresting and irrelevant ad hominem critique of the comments of others, please concentrate on how you would propose to resolve the above conundrum naturalistically.

  71. 71
    ET says:

    rvb8- There isn’t a scientific theory of evolution for scientists to use and that is a fact. So that would be a problem. But I am sure you will ignore that and prattle on anyway.

  72. 72
    kairosfocus says:

    ET,

    you got there first.

    In the natural world, illumination comes from the sun, close to a black body (or, practically, a cavity radiator) at c 5700 K. This peaks in Y-Green, and is continuous, hence the classic rainbow ROYGBIV. Our colour vision pivots on rods and cones, the former being luminance driven and monochrome; the latter, three differing types (rarely, four) that in effect give us an RGB model (i.e., I simplify, there is a far more complicated differential signal processing process involved — which further shows my point that our visual system models the world, it is not a simplistic, flat rendering). As a result, we can and do exploit this to create colour imagery in print [CMYK] and video [RGB + Luminance etc]. The illusion of moving images exploits the about 1/8 s visual update cycle of our eyes, and by going beyond about 48 Hz, we go beyond flicker effects. [Classically, a double shot of illumination allows us to use 24 frames/s film without excessive flicker — and Fluorescent lamps pulse at 50 or 60 Hz while being spectral line-dominated sources, where white light LEDs exploit similar properties, by contrast with the continuous spectra of incandescent lamps.]

    Beyond, we must bring to bear visual processing, e.g. the mystery of blue rendering given the relative sparseness of “blue” cones and how they are scattered away from the fovea centralis. Toss into the mix points like excitation of vision by actinic radiation well beyond the usual visual range and things like how we process patterns of illumination with gaps such as the blind spot into an image of objects in a 3-d world-picture coordinated with hands, pointing/aiming, balance, walking etc.

    The point is underscored: successful organ systems need not give an exact, accurate rendering of the real world in order to be reproductively advantageous. This is as close as our visual system which we are using to interact in this thread, and let’s not go to the physically implemented fast fourier transform frequency-decomposition based process involved in hearing, using resonant hairs in the cochlea.

    Then, we can look at similar systems across the world of life and ponder how they came to be given the FSCO/I origin by blind chance and mechanical necessity challenge.

    These are some of the contexts behind remarks by Darwinists above as cited. They know there are some pretty stubborn facts that undermine any notion that our senses and perceptions and framing of world models must be accurate to reality in order to promote survival.

    Such then extends to a much wider context of our senses and reasoning working off bounded rationality and models not to be equated with reality.

    At the same time, we also know that we can and routinely do access reality, such that s/he who would impose a Kantian ugly gulch unbridgeably separating perceived phenomena from things in themselves runs right into self-referential incoherence. So, we come to the centrality of the rationally and responsibly free mind, synthesising not only a functionally adequate but in key respects true access to the world. Not just the empirically experienced world but that of abstract ideas, concepts and thought, starting with the “unreasonable” effectiveness of the logic of structure and quantity, aka mathematics.

    And indeed last week it was interesting to see how a local atheist tried to rhetorically suggest that von Neumann’s construction of the natural numbers was meaningless abstruseness rather than engage the implication of the collapse of naive crude empiricism and materialism. He had hitherto been used to discomfiting primary age sunday school level thought and appeals to scripture.

    A comparison above and in linked threads points to much the same issues with the circle of persistent objectors here in this thread, in UD at large and in the penumbra of objector sites around UD.

    KF

  73. 73
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    Yes, KF. Our current explantion for our vision is an example of a good explantion. It consists of a long chain of independently formed, hard to vary assertions about the world. Just like our explantion for the seasons, as I indicated above.

    It cannot be varied without reducing it’s ability to explain the phenomena in question. If those theories somehow ran into the wall of reality, we would have no where to go.

    The quest for good explantions is the guiding principle of the enlightenment, while bad explantions blight progress. This is not to say that bad explantions might not be true, but it’s unclear how we could know.

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